Saigon Pool Tour

During a hot month, Jon Aspin set himself a challenge; visit as many hotel pools as he could in one day. It wasn’t easy, but somebody had to do it. Photos by Rodney Hughes


With no rules other than to experience as many hotel pools as I could in one day, I managed to swim in seven of them. That’s a lot. Only one was strictly for in-house guests, and another requires a membership, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth writing about. The rest are available at a price to anyone, so I offer you this incomplete guide to some of the best pools in Saigon. I’ve tried to be fair in my appraisal of each, and given them a star rating across categories I’ve invented called ‘swimmability’, ‘ambience and view’, ‘amenities’ and ‘access’.


There are many more pools of course, and a few of them are listed at the end of this piece, so I’d also recommend trying them. Feel free to let us know what you think.



Sofitel Saigon Plaza

19th Floor, 17 Le Duan, Q1



“You’ve got to get out of bed early if you want to achieve greatness”


Seemingly perched on top of this city, the Sofitel rooftop pool delivers a view of District 1 that is the envy of others. The elliptical shape of the 15m shallow pool is itself relaxing, and is surrounded on all sides by loungers that despite the early hour of our visit, were being used by guests. Chilled tunes add to the breezy vibe, transporting you quickly to a place where all things seem possible, and where your life is going well.


I got my first few laps of the day in, and thought about what the poor people were doing down below. Actually, that’s not true, but it is something my dad used to say when confronted with such sublime conditions, and it seems appropriately inappropriate here. One down, six to go. Kudos on the bar, the outdoor table settings and the type of all-day service you’d expect from a place like this.


Swimmability: 4 stars

Ambience & View: 4.5 stars

Amenities: 3.5 stars

Access: Book a room or join the gym, otherwise in house guests only 6am to 10pm



Social Club — Hotel des Arts

76-78 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1



“Very hashtag-able”


In the softer morning light of Saigon, the infinity pool on the top floor of the boutique Hotel des Arts is Instagram gold. It offers the most expansive view of the city of all the pools I visited, and the ‘edge of the world’ effect is impressive. On a clear day like we had, I doubt there’s a better place to see how far the urban sprawl of Saigon really goes.


At about 12m long, it’s only just big enough if you’re keen to get some laps in, but if you’re not Michael Phelps, for breast-stroking away last night’s excesses, or simply cooling off, this pool is close to perfect.


The swim-up bar adds potential, and would be a nice feature if you were looking to make a day of it. Unfortunately it’s only open at night, and the pool is for in-house guests only, so you’ll have to book a room to make that happen.


In terms of other amenities, space is at a premium. This means sun-loungers are limited and there are no actual changing rooms, but again, if you’ve done the right thing and booked a stay, you needn’t have to worry about this.


Swimmability: 4 stars

Ambience & View: 5 stars

Amenities: 3 stars

Access: Book a room! Open only for guests 6am to 10pm



Caravelle Saigon

7th Floor, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1



“And ‘oft thine did go to Caravelle, my lord”


This is a well-known daytime retreat for expats and locals alike. Nicely secluded amongst a well-established roof garden, the large free-form pool is available to anyone prepared to front the VND500,000 ticket. This will get you all-day access to the gym, pool and first-class changing facilities, which include a spa, sauna and steam room.


At a healthy 20m in length, it’s more than enough to get your swim on, and while it’s a long way from rush hour on Vo Thi Sau, many of the regulars do, so don’t expect to be alone. The pool includes a shallow zone where families hang out, and a bubble-bath alcove to float around in.


The always-staffed cabana bar is open until 9pm, and there are plenty of shaded loungers at both ends of the deck to chill out on. The prices here reflect the hotel’s five-star rating, but for this type of luxury in the city, the extra spend is well worth it.


Swimmability: 4.5 stars

View & Ambience: 4 stars

Amenities: 5 stars

Access: Open to the public 6am to 10pm (VND500,000 day rate)



Park Hyatt

3rd Floor, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1



“When in Rome”


Looking like something Caesar himself would have been proud to take a bath in, this large, square pool is very VIP.


Set in an opulent garden, complete with intimate table settings, it’s no surprise that this is the most expensive of the pools we visited; VND1.2million for half-day access means walk-ins are kept to a minimum. However, the amenities at your disposal are definitely what you pay for.


Bar service and food are easily at hand, too, so if you can afford it, and are looking to impress your best friend, this could well be the private getaway for you — just don’t try climbing the cascading water feature, it does tend to make the staff nervous.


Swimmability: 3.5 stars

View & Ambience: 4 stars

Amenities: 5 stars

Access: Open to the public (VND1.2 million) for a half day, 6am to 8pm



Pullman Hotel

6th Floor, 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1



“Other people’s leisure is my pleasure”


With the afternoon heat in full force, this was possibly the best pool we went to for anyone who just wants to get their head down and swim. At a good 20m long, and about two-and-a-half Olympic lanes wide, this pool is great for those combining their stay in town with a regular fitness routine.


Having said that, it’s not a bad spot to relax either, and makes the best use of the available space. With enough loungers to keep guests and visitors happy, you do get that rooftop feel, even though you’re only six floors up. Open to the public for VND360,000, that also includes a handy indoor juice bar, gym and gender separate spa and sauna, with a standard of changing facilities you’d expect from a chain like Pullman.

The mixed international crowd also seemed ready to mingle, so you’d be hard pressed to find better value from our list. Just remember to bring a good pair of flip-flops or sandals — those tiles around the pool can get hot.


Swimmability: 3.5 stars

View & Ambience: 3.5 stars

Amenities: 3.5 stars

Access: Open to the public for VND360,000, 6am to 10pm



Renaissance Riverside Hotel

22nd Floor, 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1



“We like to party”


This pool is strictly for the paddlers among us, though that won’t stop the odd noob from donning the cap and goggles. Truly a rooftop pool, and now a centrepiece of the hotel’s Liquid Sky Bar, it’s the location we went to that seemed most willing to get the party started. With a bar barely five feet away from its edge, it’s not uncommon for revelers to end up in the water on a big night out at this venue. I’ve seen it happen myself.


The recliners were busy with a full complement of sun worshippers when we were there, and the riverside view you get is unique. The mix of hotel guests can also make for some interesting viewing, as was the case on our visit, when we bore witness to some pretty interesting variations on what constitutes a modest swimming outfit. It’s open to the public at VND300,000, but you’re more likely to come here on a night out, so if you do, my advice is to dive in and enjoy. The drinks are some of the best in town, too.


Swimmability: 3 stars

View & Ambience: 4 stars

Amenities: 4 stars

Access: Open to the public for VND300,000, 6am to late



The Rex Hotel

Top Floor, 141 Nguyen Hue, Q1



“Get in.”


As the light faded around us, this was as good a place as any to finish the tour. This five-star hotel’s rooftop pool is iconic, worthy of your attention and something that will no doubt continue to stand the test of time.


There are in fact two pools at the Rex, the lower deck tear drop is an often lively family fun area close to the bar and gym, and the second tier is a more sedate lapper, that has you eyeball to eyeball with the Bitexco Tower.


For VND200,000 the Rex is a great place to wind up your weekend, and while the amenities aren’t new, they are more than getting the job done at this famous sun-trap. Loungers are in plentiful supply but with service and a drinks list like this, it’s no surprise that it remains popular even with long-term expats keen to soak up the afternoon rays.


Swimmability: 3.5 stars

View & Ambience: 4 stars

Amenities: 3.5 stars

Access: Open to the public for about VND160,000 (US$7), 6am to 10pm



Don’t Forget


The swimming pools not mentioned in this article but certainly worth consideration include the New World Hotel, Q1, The Equatorial, Q5 and The Intercontinental Asiana, Q1. We’d like to thank all of the participating venues for their kind hospitality and gracious acceptance of our request to shoot their pools.

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